Haven Brothers Diner
Perhaps the nation's oldest mobile historic landmark, this 1940s-era diner traces its heritage back to the late 19th century, when it began as a horse-drawn lunch wagon. When Patrick Haven died in 1888, his widow, Anne Philomena Haven, decided to establish a lunch wagon with the help of her daughter and son-in-law. Beginning sometime around 1893, the Haven family drove the cart (later upgraded to a rail diner car on a flatbed truck) to the same location in front of the Providence City Hall every day for several generations. In the 1950s, the Havens family sold the business, but little has changed with this popular Providence establishment. The diner's longevity has not been without controversy, as several city officials attempted to force the diner to stop parking next to the city hall at various times throughout the 20th century.
Backstory and Context
In 1986, it appeared that the Havens Brothers had served their last greasy meal at this location, as city officials decided that the old truck and its greasy fare clashed with the gentrification efforts of the downtown area. For a short time, the truck was quarantined to a spot behind a bus station on West Exchange Street. Community members rallied behind the beloved food truck, which won a temporary return to its historic location with the aid of a court order. Providence locals worked to convince the city that the recent work to improve the appearance of Kennedy Plaza were only palatable if the historic food truck could be part of the new and improved downtown. By the end of the year, city officials backed down. As a result, visitors to the city can join residents in a beloved tradition of late night "double murder burgers" or any of the diner's other classics.